I need to write about Jarrid Wilson.

It felt like we all lost.

Like the entire community of us, those who have been fighting it for years, decades and those who are recently discovering themselves and how to cope with it, it felt like we all lost the fight.

That’s how I felt at least, when I heard the news about Jarrid Wilson: pastor, father, husband and mental health advocate, taking his own life.

It’s….unpleasant in general for many reasons…and by unpleasant I mean tragic, terribly sad and disturbing. The extremely haunting truth about his death…the part of it that sent me down a roller coaster of difficult emotions last night….emotions that were stronger than they should have been for someone I didn’t know was this: he was fighting the same thing I and many others fight everyday. He was doing the right things. Sharing. Talking. Helping other people through his struggle. He was a pastor. He loved Jesus. He loved people. People loved him. He wasn’t alone. And it still over took him.

For the rest of us. Those of us who maybe still struggle to say the words “I need help” out loud. Those who have said it but who play it off nonchalantly as if it were a cute quirk or something. And even those of us who have never said it out loud and maybe won’t for a few years because they don’t yet know there’s a name for what they are feeling. For those of us…it begs the terrifying question of do we even stand a chance?

Jarrid’s death was brought up casually last night, in conversation in-between Facebook scrolls. I heard it. Moved past it. Continued to watch my show. In the quiet of the night however it crept back into my subconscious as I dug to figure out why this name was familiar. When I found out why I knew his name I kind of tripped and fell off of an emotional cliff. It was already a rough night due to some family conflict. So my brain was already vulnerable and off spinning in a direction that it needed not to go in. But the realization that we had lost another one was really, really heavy to me.

The only thing I can loosely compare it to is if you were diagnosed with a specific kind of cancer, and everyone tells you that you can beat it. But then you hear of someone you know of who’s healthier than you, more equipped than you, on paper stronger than you, who just died from the same thing you have in you. There would be a small pang of hopelessness. Even for a moment…wouldn’t there be?

I think within the Christian community we’re a little timid to talk about mental health for the monster it is. Too often people are met with “if you have enough faith” or “pray harder”. And all that does for the person who has faith, and the person who prays hard, even in tongues is make them wonder “am I holy enough yet?” “Am I righteous enough yet for God to love me enough to heal me?” And we strive. We try hard. We try to earn our healing…and that within itself is a monster.

Can we just be real enough to understand that sometimes God doesn’t deliver us from every affliction…and can we learn instead how to use these afflictions as keys to helping others?

I think, without knowing him, that the most honorable part of Jarrid’s life was that he took what he struggled with, and shouted it from the rooftops. Because according to him HE understood the depths of the struggle of depression. HE understood the powerlessness. I guarantee he even understood the strange parallel of understanding Gods love and power and that sometimes God doesn’t take that thorn out of our side…and even tho it may feel harsh…there’s a love in that.

I have more questions than answers. I have more fears than comforts. I have more confusion than clarity. But what I do know, right now, in the clarity of daylight and the newness of this morning is this. There is hope.

We haven’t lost the fight. It’s okay to be saddened. It’s okay to struggle. There’s a war to be waged…we just have to figure out how to fight it.

3 Tips if You’re Struggling

1. Talk to someone with resources. It may be easier to talk to a friend about your struggles but a) friends can listen, but they’re not always the most equipped to help. b) your friend could be struggling too. Someone with resources could be a coach. Teacher. Youth leader or a therapist if you can afford/access one.

2. Keep tabs on yourself. Be aware of your triggers. You may not always be able to avoid them but knowing what sets you off before it sets you off can at least help you identify the reason for your emotions and help you to better communicate them in the future. It can also help you be aware of when you’ll need to be more gentle with yourself.

3. Connect yourself to positive sources. A lot of people who struggle with mental health (mainly teens) tend to follow other social media accounts of people who negatively cope with their struggle. They are constantly surrounded by struggle and that’s the easiest way feel hopeless. Be smart with your connections. Don’t self sabotage.

These are just things I’ve noted over the years. They’re not life savers, but they’re helpful.

All in all. Be gentle with yourselves. You matter.

#suicidepreventionweek

{photo courtesy of Anthem of Hope. An organization founded by Jarrid Wilson}